Will the fashion industry change its manufacturing methods to produce clothes that fit properly?

This is question has never been more relevant than today. The fashion industry is still largely focused on young and trendy consumers and that is what they put in the mainstream media. However people’s body shapes are changing and ultimately the fashion industry will have to change to meet demand from the marketplace. Whether or not we’ll see this change in the way media represents fashion remains to be seen.

Fashion retailers (along with the airline and automotive industries) have funded research into how body shapes are changing. Cornell University in the USA have been collecting anthropometric data by using body scanning to study variations in body size and unsurprisingly the results show wide variations.

Body Scan Image

(Image: Cornell Body Scan Research Group)

It has not been possible for the fashion industry in the past to base their designs or manufacturing processes on anthropometric data simply because it has been too time consuming and difficult to collect. This will probably be different in the future as technology improves, but it does depend on a number of factors.

    • Will people be prepared to have their body scanned to so that clothes can be made to fit properly?
    • Can designers apply their skills to different body forms and still satisfy their artistic desire?
    • Where does the cross over point between artistic intent and function?
    • Does artistic intent cease to matter when designers are faced with designing plus size clothes and does that result in clothes for plus size women that are poorly designed?
    • Can technology be used to create clothes on the fly that are specific to a persons size and shape? (automated tailoring)

Is the fashion industry going to change it’s philosophical approach to designing and producing clothes? Currently fashion houses design based on the target market they trying to reach, usually reflecting a lifestyle and price perspective. They then produce a model based on “regular” sizes, and you can be pretty sure this isn’t a plus size. They take their designs and scale them upwards and downwards to produce their garments in a range of standard sizes. Quite often this does not include plus or petite sizes. Why is this? Either because they don’t want to be associated with plus or petite sizes, those sizes aren’t their target market, OR the designs do not lend themselves to be being manufactured in plus or petite sizes. Designing clothes that work as a design statement across a wide range of sizes is a challenge for designers. Manufacturing variations brings its own cost challenges too.

Luckily there are designers out there today who do recognise the needs of their customers and do make beautiful clothes in plus sizes. They look beautiful and from a design perspective they work across a range of sizes, including plus sizes. They may not always make it to high street chains and they may be more boutique fashion but they are available. The internet is offering more choice if you are prepared to look and over time the internet will level the playing field and provide better choice for clothes that “fit and flatter” for plus size women. This is one of the things we are aiming to do with our online shop http://www.vidamoda.co.uk

However the time is coming where the growing variations in body shape and size will force the industry to change because “standards” won’t work any longer, people are demanding and indeed expecting to have a choice. Considerable variation is occurring in different countries but this is being balanced by emerging and growing markets that the fashion industry can tap into, but we do think things will eventually change.

What are your thoughts?

    1. Do you feel you have adequate choice for fit and size of clothes?
    2. Would you shop in a store that used body scanning and made clothes to fit your shape and size?

Leave a comment and let us know what you think :-)

Information in this post references and is informed by the following article from Cornell University http://www.bodyscan.human.cornell.edu/scene7354.html
Body scan image courtesy of Cornell Body Scan Research Group

Plus Size dress (18) from Vida Moda

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